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Professor David Selby


Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences



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2015 - present: Professor in Earth Sciences, Dept of Earth Sciences, Durham University.

2010 — 2015: TOTAL Reader in Petroleum Geosciences, Dept of Earth Sciences, Durham University.

2009: TOTAL Senior Lecturer in Petroleum Geosciences, Dept of Earth Sciences, Durham University

2008: Lecturer in Petroleum Geosciences, Dept of Earth Sciences, Durham University

2005 — 2008: Lecturer, Dept of Earth Sciences, Durham University

2004 — 2005: Research Associate, University of Alberta, Canada

1999 — 2004: Post-doctoral fellow, University of Alberta, Canada

1999: PhD (University of Alberta, Canada)

1994: BSc (Southampton University, UK)

Career Research Highlights

Selby has been involved in the development and application of the Re-Os isotope system since 1999. His research focuses on the systematic development and application of the Re-Os isotope system to economic geology (e.g., sulfide Re-Os geochronology), chronology of sedimentary and petroleum systems, paleoclimate, paleoceanography, macroalgae, and the anthropocene.
His research is conducted in the Source Rock and Sulfide Geochronology and Geochemistry Laboratory and Arthur Holmes Laboratory, which forms an integral part of the Durham Geochemistry Centre.
For excellence in contributions to applied and economic aspects of the science Selby has been awarded the William Smith Fund (2009) from The Geological Society of London. He is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. In 2014 he received an award for excellence in doctoral supervision.

Research Interests

Application of isotope geology to metallic ore genesis, timescale calibration /isotope stratigraphy/mass extinction/ paleoclimate/macroalgae/past glaciations/anthropocene etc.

Rhenium-osmium isotope studies of organic-bearing sedimentary rocks/sulphide minerals/organic matter including macroalgae. Developing the laboratory techniques for the extraction of rhenium and osmium from geological samples.

Current Research Opportunites

If you are interested in any of my research interests, namely Re-Os isotope geochemistry of ore systems, organic-rich rocks, paleoclimate, macroalgae, and the anthropocene please feel free to contact me. E.g., Tracking human impact on the atmosphere, Late Paleozoic paleoclimate, Quaternay and Holocene paleoclimate, magmatism and economic mineralization. Current potential research project themes include:

PhD [funded]: Climatic change on the Greenland Ice Sheet over the Late Cenozoic to establish lineages to future climate change - supervised by David Selby, Emma Ownsworth (Earth Sciences), Jerry Lloyd (Geography) & Paul Knutz (GEUS).

MScR: Tracking marine excursion of Baffin Bay during the Cretaceous – supervised by David Selby & Paul Knutz (GEUS).

MScR: Temporal and Structural constraints of Magmatism and hosted Mo mineralization – supervised by David Selby, Ken Mccaffrey, Bob Holdsworth (Durham) and Cyril Chelle-Michou (ETH).


Conferences and Workshops

2016 — Chaired the session: Development and Application of Nontraditional Isotopes in Studies of Earth History. 2016 Goldschmidt Conference, Yokohama, 26 Jun – 1 Jul 2016.

2014 — Chaired the session: The Middle Paleozoic World, 2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Nov 1-4.

2014 — Chaired the session: OAE phenomena contributed from Asian and Western Pacific records. IGCP608 meeting, Waseda Japan, September 4-6, 2014.

2013 — AGU Fall Meeting: Chaired Session: Recent Advances in the Study of Ocean Anoxic Events 

2009 — AGU Fall Meeting: Chaired Session: Empirical and Modelling Reconstructions of the Tempo, Mode, and Origin of Palaeocirculation and Climate Change During the Holocene and Prior Periods

2009  Geochemical Society Goldschmidt Conference Chaired Session: Role of Metals in Understanding the Origins of Petroleum

2006 International Highly Siderophile Elements conference: High temperature and low temperature processes, environment and health issues, University of Durham

Editorial Roles

2010 – present — Editorial Committee, the Journal of Geology and Exploration

2012 – 2023 — Editorial Committee, the Society of Economic Geologists


2008 – 2012 — Royal Society: Industry Fellowship

Membership of Organisations and Societies

Member, Society of Economic Geologists

Member, American Geophysical Union

Member, EARTH TIME Europe

Member, Geological Association of America

Prizes & Awards

2018 — Fellow of the Geological Society

2014 —Durham University award for excellence in doctoral supervision.

2009 — William Smith Fund from the Geological Society of London. Awarded for excellence in contributions to applied and economic aspects of the science.

2003 — Best Paper - Honourable Mention from the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists

Recent and Current Grants

2021 - 2024 — NSF-NERC Research Grant

2014 – 2017 — Total Ph.D. Scholarship

2014 – 2015 — NERC Catalyst Research Grant 

2012 – 2014 — CLAIR Group Research Grant

2010 – 2012 — SINDRI Research Grant

2010 – 2014 — NERC STD Grant 

2009 – 2012 — Durham University/Helio Resource Corp. Ph.D. Scholarship

2009 – 2012 — Lundin Petroleum Ph.D. Scholarship

2009 – 2010 — NERC Small Grant

2008 – 2017 — TOTAL Endowment Fund

2008 – 2011 — NERC CASE Studentship

2007 – 2010 — CeREES/TOTAL Ph.D. Scholarship

2006 – 2009 — NERC CASE Studentship

2006 – 2008 — Nuffield Newly Appointed Lecturers Grant

2006 – 2009 — Science Foundation Ireland (Marine Institute) Research Frontiers Programme


Ph.D. Students (current)

Jennifer Taylor (2020-2021) – PhD – Tracking past sea-level and environmental changes via novel isotope geochemistry. Co-supervised by Drs Lloyd (DU Geography), Smeaton (St Andrews), Sageman (Northwestern University, USA). DDS Funded



Journal Article

Supervision students